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TopBilled

Classic Film Criticism Vol. 2

338 posts in this topic

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*TWO-FACED WOMAN (1941)*

 

The premise would have worked better for someone like Lucille Ball. As screwball comedies go, this one is especially absurd, though humorous in spots-- but certainly not something that should have been attempted with Garbo, who is out of her element here. The supporting cast is well chosen, notably Constance Bennett. The picture has the usual high-gloss MGM production values. Overall, a mediocre script that seems more like a B-film that has been oversold. Garbo deserved better, and so do her fans. Worth watching but not a befitting motion picture swan song for a legend.

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*TIGHT SPOT (1955)*

 

An interesting role for Ginger Rogers at this stage of her career. The fine ensemble helps. I particularly liked Brian Keith in this film, and Edward G. Robinson, on the right side of the law. It is worth mentioning that Lorne Greene plays the mob boss with considerable flair, though his brand of acting may not exactly mesh with Rogers' style. It is almost like there is an old school of acting in Hollywood intersecting with some of the newer methods.

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_Special Note:_

 

First, I want to thank everyone who scans this thread on a regular basis. After Friday August 2nd, the thread will go on hiatus. I have started a new job and my posting time will be more limited. I hope to be able to continue my other threads, because they are not as labor-intensive as this one. I anticipate reactivating this thread later in the year. This should allow me the chance to watch many more films in the months ahead and provide new on-going reviews when we resume.

 

In the meantime, fellow poster calvin is going to start her own Film Reviews thread. She has some excellent commentary already posted at the IMDB, and I encourage everyone to follow her upcoming thread.

 

Thanks.

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*THIRTEEN WOMEN (1932)*

 

The production code severely hampers this film. It is very truncated from its original form, with David Selznick having to chop away much of the original footage to appease the censors, and the story loses coherence without the illumination of key points. What could have been a revered classic is instead a more forgettable family-friendly version.

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This film does have a fascinating cast though - in addition to Irene in the lead and Myrna (approaching the end of her exotic, she-devil phase), you get Ricardo Cortez (a year after his version of Sam Spade in the first Falcon adaptation), Jill Esmond (then-married to Laurence Olivier), Kay Johnson (then-wife of director John Cromwell and mom to actor James), Florence Eldridge (Fredric March's longtime spouse and sometimes-co-star) and a brief glimpse of the notorious and tragic Hollywood sign suicide - Peg Entwistle.

 

I find the most amusing thing about the chopped salad version of the film we end up with is that there aren't even the full baker's dozens of ladies anymore! :D Maybe they should have similarly tweaked the title.

 

Best of luck on your new job, TopBilled!

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Thanks, Nora. THIRTEEN WOMEN is an experiment that did not quite live up to its potential. It could have been such a great film. It should be remade as an art film.

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1badman.png

*THE BAD MAN (1941)*

 

Not sure if the tinted coloring works to great effect in THE BAD MAN, but the performances are sure grand. Ronald Reagan was borrowed from Warners, and it is nice to see him in a slightly different role for MGM. The true knockouts, though, are Wallace Beery and Lionel Barrymore. It is like the clash of two acting titans, and what satisfying results.

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> {quote:title=TopBilled wrote:}{quote}1garbo.png

> *TWO-FACED WOMAN (1941)*

>

> The premise would have worked better for someone like Lucille Ball. As screwball comedies go, this one is especially absurd, though humorous in spots-- but certainly not something that should have been attempted with Garbo, who is out of her element here. The supporting cast is well chosen, notably Constance Bennett. The picture has the usual high-gloss MGM production values. Overall, a mediocre script that seems more like a B-film that has been oversold. Garbo deserved better, and so do her fans. Worth watching but not a befitting motion picture swan song for a legend.

 

I remember reading that the original version of this script allowed Garbo's character to fool her husband into thinking she actually was her more outgoing sister, making him the butt of the joke. It was rejected by the censor board because they thought it would glorify adultry. So a scene was added that allowed Melvyn Douglas to overhear Garbo's plan to impersonate her sister, making Garbo's character into the joke, not the husband. Even had it been left in the original, it was, as you said, not a good choice for Garbo.

 

As for Lucille Ball, didn;'t she make a movie with a similar plot? You Can't Fool Your Wife? Not exactly the same, but...

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1monkey2.jpg

*MONKEY BUSINESS (1952)*

 

Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers headline this 20th Century Fox offering where one absurd moment gets piled on top of the next, until all of a sudden, all heck breaks loose and it's a comic free-for-all. The leads play a couple that is growing old as well as growing young together thanks to a rejuvenation serum. There is an uproarious sequence where Ginger thinks Cary has become a baby. Charles Coburn costars as the meddling boss, and Marilyn Monroe is the secretary who must find someone who can type his correspondence.

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*ONE WAY PASSAGE (1933)*

 

Kay Francis and William Powell have a smooth rapport in this picture. There is some great fluid camera work where the filmmakers zoom in on Miss Francis who is standing on the upper deck when the ship is docked. What one likes about the story is that we do not exactly see what happens to the characters at the very end. The viewer knows they are both doomed, and cannot escape a tragic fate, but instead, we are left with this fleeting romance that took place during the span of a month and the lasting memory of it. It is a bittersweet, beautiful film.

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1angel.png

*ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD (1951)*

 

ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD benefits from Clarence Brown's top-notch direction. The screenplay is excellent; and the supporting players (especially Keenan Wynn and Spring Byington) really add to the lead performances by Janet Leigh and Paul Douglas. There are big-name cameos from the era, and there is a nice role for Lewis Stone, always a welcome presence in an MGM film.

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*THE STRATTON STORY (1949)*

 

Supposedly Jimmy Stewart had not really intended to do the film, till it was pointed out to him that it would inspire WWII veterans with limited mobility. The scene where he and his son walk together for the first time is exceptional. June Allyson is superb and perfectly cast. Agnes Moorhead is good and understated as the mother, and this is another film where Frank Morgan plays a paternal role to one of Stewart's characters. Morgan seems very lively in this offering. The game scenes are equally lively, and this entire film is worth enjoying and remains inspiring with each viewing.

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